The Boston Red Sox rolled out their other ace this afternoon, the little skinny one with the Elvis hips and Richard Pryor rap.

Oil Can Boyd did not have Roger Clemens' 95-mph gas today, but he was every bit as effective, if not as awesome, as Clemens was Friday night.

"He didn't throw hard enough to make his arm tired," Orioles designated hitter Larry Sheets said after Boston beat Baltimore, 7-3, before 39,063 at Memorial Stadium.

"You wait and wait and wait on a pitch to get to home plate, and you still haven't waited long enough."

Boyd (10-5) nipped corners and knees, inside and outside, throwing screwballs low and change-ups high.

He was remarkably efficient, not allowing a runner to reach third until the seventh inning, when the Red Sox had a 4-0 lead. He held the Orioles to seven hits and two earned runs in 7 1/3 innings.

The Boston victory does two things to the American League East race, both of them good if you live in Cambridge or Brookline or wear a Celtics T-shirt.

The Red Sox (47-25) now lead the second-place New York Yankees by seven games and the third-place Orioles by nine in a division in which the second-through-seventh-place teams are separated by 3 1/2 games.

The loss was the 14th in 19 games for the Orioles (38-34) and their sixth straight at home. After the game, Orioles General Manager Hank Peters and Manager Earl Weaver met for a long time to discuss what changes, if any, could be made.

"It's a dangerous time," Weaver said. "There's no doubt about that. We're a game or so out of last place, and all of us are bunched together. It's not insurmountable, but you have to be careful."

Orioles starter Storm Davis (6-8) allowed eight singles and two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. He was not helped by the errors made by shortstop Cal Ripken and second baseman Juan Bonilla.

He pitched again with a painful hip pointer that isn't getting any better, and Weaver said, "We'll look at him Tuesday when he throws on the sidelines and see."

Davis said, "I don't know if I can continue, but I'm going to try. The pain has affected my throwing, and I can feel some pain in my shoulder. Right now, we've already had too many guys on the disabled list, and I'm going to go as long as I can."

Not that he could have made any difference against Boyd, who has not had the publicity of 14-0 Clemens but has had many of the same results. Together, they give Boston a tremendous chance to win the AL East -- the Red Sox are 25-6 in games started by Clemens and Boyd.

Boyd was not in anything resembling trouble until the eighth, when the Red Sox had a 5-0 lead. He walked Bonilla with one out and allowed Lee Lacy a single. He got Fred Lynn on a flyout to center, but after dueling for about a dozen pitches, Eddie Murray doubled to right to break up the shutout.

Red Sox Manager John McNamara brought in Bob Stanley, who pitched the final 1 2/3 innings.

"I think things are going to work out completely marvelous," Boyd said. "I was just trying to keep Cal and them from hurting me with the long ball. You never want to come out, but you've got to throw it over. It's good to be able to come out and know there's someone who can get them out. Things are looking so positive."

Stanley got his 13th save, but not before he made it exciting.

The Orioles scored their second run on Ripken's groundout. Then Stanley dropped a throw from first baseman Bill Buckner to allow another run to score. But with the tying runs on base, Stanley struck out Mike Young, and he got the Orioles in order in the ninth.

In five at-bats in this series, Young is hitless with three strikeouts, all of which have come with runners in scoring position.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox pecked away at the Orioles' pitching a little at a time, scoring single runs in the second, third, fourth, sixth and eighth innings and two in the ninth.

They scored their first four runs on nine singles and two Baltimore errors and didn't have an extra-base hit until the eighth.

Jim Rice led off the second with a single to right. Davis got Don Baylor on a groundout to third and Dwight Evans on a flyout to right, but just when Davis should have been out of the inning, Tony Armas' grounder scooted between Ripken's legs, allowing Rice to score.

The Red Sox made it 2-0 in the third when Wade Boggs, Buckner and Rice strung together singles, and they knocked Davis out with three more singles in the fourth.

Evans led off the fourth with a single to right, and after Armas popped out to Ripken, Rich Gedman singled to left and Ed Romero singled to center for the run.

That was all for Davis, who has pitched into the eighth inning in nine of his 15 starts.

Weaver squeezed 4 1/3 innings from reliever Nate Snell, who allowed four hits and one earned run. Boston had runners on base in every inning against him but scored only in the sixth, and then because of Bonilla's error.

Again, it came on an Armas grounder, and this one went between Bonilla's legs. Armas went to second on the error, to third on Gedman's single and home on Romero's sacrifice fly to right.

That made it 4-0, and the Red Sox ran their lead to 5-0 with another run off Snell in the eighth. With one out, Armas doubled to left for the Red Sox' first extra-base-hit of the game. He went to third on Gedman's groundout and scored on Romero's single to left.

After the Orioles closed it to 5-3 in the eighth, the Red Sox came back with two in the top of the ninth to make it 7-3. Rice got his third single, this one off Brad Havens with one out.

Weaver went for Don Aase, who got Baylor on a flyout to right, then sent a fastball down the middle of the plate, good enough for Evans to line over the center field fence.

"We're looking for help," Weaver said. "One thing I don't want to do is have the whole Rochester team up here."